My Take

Moon park a heritage plan that's literally out of this world

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 13 July, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Saturday, 13 July, 2013, 3:36am

Visitors to historical places indulging in activities that destroy the sanctity of the relics are a constant worry across the globe. The furore that erupted after Chinese graffiti was discovered on an artwork in Egypt's Temple of Luxor is still fresh in our memory. A teenager from Nanjing scribbled it a few years back, but it came to light this year, triggering furious debate. His parents apologised for their son's act.

At sites thousands visit every year, it is natural that authorities put in place very strict regulations.

It is, however, a bit strange to demand protection for a place no one has visited for four decades. But that is what Congresswomen Donna Edwards and Eddie Bernice Johnson want the US government to do. They want to make the sites of the American moon landings a national historical park and world heritage site, citing potential commercial traffic on the moon that could damage them.

The footprints of the first human to land on the moon, Neil Armstrong, are among items the lawmakers predictably mention, along with equipment, impact markings, and vehicle tracks left by different Apollo missions.

But wait a bit longer before you strap on your oxygen tank and get your picnic bag ready. The actual process might need a bit of time.

Obviously it will be difficult to make a physical verification of the listed things on the site, as reaching these spots is a bit beyond the means of the authorities. Last time someone went there was in 1972.

So they will have to go by what space experts think is there, provided it has not been taken by some uncouth alien with no regard for history. And let's hope a Martian brat didn't feel the urge to scribble on Armstrong's footprints.

Corey Powell, editor of Discover Magazine, lists a few odd items he says were left by various Apollo crews. There's a falcon feather and a hammer David Scott dropped to show how gravity works. There are the golf balls and 96 bags of frozen human waste, he says.

So clearly this place needs protection as some naughty astronauts have been vandalising the area just because they thought no one was watching.

I'm not sure if the authorities can use regulations retrospectively to discipline these vandals. But I guess some former astronauts are shaking in their boots.


Alex Lo is on leave